[eDebate] Response to Nicole(s) on Roe

Veronica Barreto veronica_m_barreto
Mon Apr 10 21:20:17 CDT 2006


I've read a good portion of this conversation and found that both of these posts from Nicole Richter and Nicole Colston were fairly emblematic of what I wanted to respond to:
  
Richter writes:
nrichter at umsis.miami.edu wrote:
    I completely agree with Nicole. My initial reaction was the same. Debating Roe 
v. Wade is horrifying! If the arguments about policy education and training are 
correct, I will not be a part of training future policymakers and lobbyists to 
form more persuasive arguments for overturning this ruling. 
   
  My response:
  Don't you have to coach the negative too?  Why wouldn't you just choose another S Ct. decision for the aff? It seems like that may be a better choice than changing what you do for a living. Better yet...why wouldn't you let your students make those choices.  For example, having lived in Miami for over 20 years, I can tell you that I may have been the one Cuban Catholic hippy that escaped, but there are a number of conservative Republican Cuban Catholics all over the Miami campus, students who stand out on the corner of US-1 and Maynada every year with posters of aborted fetuses, who would run that as an overturn aff and mean it.  Those students, along with a variety of others with diverse perspectives, were always welcome in the Miami squad room. Coaches don't control what their students believe. I train my students HOW to argue, not WHAT to argue. 
   
  Richter continues:
  If debate 
influences public discussion on the issue, I will not risk increasing the 
likelihood of the decision being overruled. I would also leave the activity 
because the potential impact of this topic on the current political climate is 
too risky.
   
  My response:
  If this current Court configuration overturns Roe v. Wade it will be the result of (a) Bush administration court packing and (b) the shift in power within conservative politics away from big business and towards the evangelical right.  In reality, after all the heat that the new inductees to the Court took in their confirmation process regarding Roe v. Wade, I think they're loathe to touch it with a 10 ft pole and will probably veer away from challenges to Roe. What the topic more immediately impacts are the lives of those who work with the topic.  From the NYT article on Liberty University regarding the privacy topic: 
   
  O'Donnell took the matter to Falwell. "Doc decided that if we wanted to compete, we'd need to accept the rules," O'Donnell says. That season, by special dispensation, Liberty's debate practice rooms became the only place on campus where students were free to argue in favor of Roe v. Wade."
   
  Whether people change their minds or not, the resolution's influence, goes both ways.  And aren't we usually better off without intellectual censorship?
   
  Richter again:
   This topic creates a specific barrier to debate that only womyn have 
to deal with. Womyn should not be forced into a position where they have to 
debate or judge something they have or potentially could have a real personal 
stake in. I don't think this community would ever consider debating the pros 
and cons of Brown v. Board of Education because it would obviously be racist, 
but one of the strongest civil rights decisions for womyn is fine to debate 
because it is a "current event." It is very revealing of our community that we 
will finally debate a "womyn's issue" so long as it is done through a 
completely conservative approach that advocates taking rights away. With the 
already low number of womyn competing, coaching, and judging in this activity, 
(just look at Neil's most recent post), how could people possibly consider this 
topic? The complete oversight of the potential damaging effects this will have 
on female participation in debate reaffirms an overlooked truth: this community 
is sexist, and only a small portion of the community seems to give a damn! 

Oh, and by the way, there is not a single womyn on the new topic committee. Why 
is that?
   
  My response:  

  What's with the "finally" in the sentence about a debate topic that discusses women's issues?  Not only do debaters make a personal choice to discuss women's issues on every topic -- Sarah and Rachel chose to argue Genderitivity.  And every topic in my debate tenure has discussed women's issues  --  there was an explosion of Feminist IR debates on the Southeast Asia topic, there were microloans and many WID/WAD generation development assistance policies for women on the Africa topic, a very visible sex trafficking aff on the Europe topic, folks read Cynthia Weber's reading of foreign policy on the sanctions topic, the One Child Policy on the China topic (that has the possibility of a pro-life variation of the aff -- after all, if the USFG would pressure China to remove the One Child Policy, this administration would probably assert a prolife rationale and  that didn't cause anyone to threaten to quit then).  Then there was the Title 7 topic that seemed to discuss nothing
 but gender issues, even if that wasn't what the topic was written to do...more on that and why we can't discuss issues of race later.  
   
  I will admit that I don't follow the latest statistics regarding female participation...out West, we're more concerned with having participation at all because its more about program survival than the particulars -- so even if you're White, Mormon wealthy, male, and willing to put a commitment forward to debate, you're welcomed to include yourself in the headcount.  My anecdotal perspective tells me that female participation is where it has always been.  Which also tells me that the variation in topic has no bearing on female participation.  Shouldn't we be reaping the rewards of the 98-99 Title VII topic in the female coaching ranks by now?
   
  I don't know why there are no women on the committee, but I do know that I sure as hell didn't run because it's time consuming, requires heavy research and I have always felt like I have had my voice in topic discussions whenever I got involved. Becoming a committee member requires me to be involved in a discussion as an office; whereas being an active participant on the outside allows me access without a formal commitment. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people avoid being on the committee like the plague. Many past participants have left their work on the committee because all the complaining and whining about wordings and the politics of the committee drove them away. Debate community service is hard, no matter how or at what level you engage it.  You're on shaky ground -- both theoretically and rhetorically -- when you insinuate that the biological sex of the members on the topic committee alone shapes the topic. 

   
  Colston comments:
> Okay, I thought this was a silly rumor until the recent Ballot postings
> by
> mancuso. It was hard to avoid profanity in writing this e-mail and I
> definitely have not planned my formal and large-scale attack on this
> idea but . . .
> 
> The Question:
> I wanted to know if anyone else thought that including "abortion"- ie
> overturning Roe vs. Wade- as part of the courts topic was a REALLY AWFUL
> AND
> PERSONALLY DEVASTATING IDEA! ?
> 
> #?#**%5$$%#$#!#%%#%*(&^^%%#%$%^^!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

   
  Not me. A resolution alone could not affect me personally because it offers a question, not a conclusion.
  
> For the Topic Committee:
> I hope this is not someone's idea of including of women's issues in the
> topic. Please consider addressing women's concerns from a different
> issue
> perspective, for ex. pornography or employment practices, or just not
> at
> all!!!!

  We have done that.  Among those efforts, was the Title 7 topic.  It was the worst topic I debated during my career.  For starters, many debates were reduced to crude identity politics, but my biggest problem was that gender was only supposed to be HALF of the topic.  We were only supposed to have to debate it HALF of the time.  There were very few race affs.  Miami ran one part of the year, as did George Washington, but I can't think of too many who joined us.  People are perfectly comfortable to discuss gender issues because we all feel safe and secure with our non sexist credentials.  We all know that we don't discriminate based on sex, we understand that women deserve equal pay and respectful inclusive treatment.  We all have mothers or sisters or friends or partners that help in confronting these issues on a daily basis.  Ultimately, I think deep down inside we're not all sure on those credentials when it comes to race.  Race and ethnicity are difficult subjects no
 matter what forum you are participating in, but even in the debate community, everyone gets pretty uncomfortable in those conversations.  
  
> For the Community:
> I will WITHDRAW my squad's participation in NDT/CEDA debate without
> hesitation next year if Roe vs. Wade is included on the ballot. I am
> sick
> over the extent in which this "activity" has no respect for women and
> fear
> the effects on female participation if Roe v Wade is included.
   
  I find it odd that that would be your take.  Also from the NYT's article on the Liberty debate team:  "A few years ago," O'Donnell recalls, "the topic dealt with the right of privacy. That means, among other things, abortion. The question arose, can we let our students argue the pro side of the case? Some conservative Christian schools decided that they couldn't argue both sides of certain issues. Bob Jones University wound up dropping policy debating."  Why would a progressive want to foreclose a debate by walking away from the institution that encourages the dialectic?
   
  Plus, the topic paper written by Ryan Galloway and posted publicly to edebate for all subscribers to read did not take a stance on the inclusion of Roe and neither did the topic ballot.  Roe was simply cited as a potential case that might be included in discussions of what cases should compose the list to be overturned.
   
  The topic process is pretty transparent already. If you search the last year for "legal topic" in the edebate archives you'll find a slew of posts on both sides of the issue, including quite a few in November.  I was more surprised by seeing the War on Terror topic area and IPR to a lesser extent, than seeing Roe as a possible area under the overturn topic area, which has been a fait accompli even for the casual edebate watcher since last year's topic area announcement.  The committee may not webcast the wording meeting, but they do type minutes up every day that are distributed via edebate at the close of each day of the 3 day process. They also solicit wording papers in advance, which could be written exclusively as a treatise that defends the exclusion of Roe from an overturn topic or have a section explaining why Roe should be left out of the topic. Also, emails and edebate posts are often read at meetings to cite particular community perspectives on resolutional
 issues. And obviously, all those that attend the meeting have the floor open to them. Now there may be questions of class access:  it costs money to have a plane ticket to the meeting and accommodations, it costs money to pay for internet service to access edebate conversations, read updates and post information, and even the question of quick research on topic wordings is also a question of class access, but this is not an issue about the biological sex of the participants.
   
  
> Thoughts on the topic process:
> 1) I do not think we should vote on a topic area that does not have a
> topic
> paper. How could I anticipate something as foul as this?
> 2) I feel politically neutralized as a professional in this community,
> as a
> woman, and as a small squad coach by the way this process occurs. I do
> not
> support the elitist back-room and ignorant politics that dictate the
> process. Where, when, and by who are these decisions being made? Why
> aren't the "Minutes" from topic meetings posted on edebate? Was there
> a
> topic meeting at CEDA? Why aren't students involved? Why aren't
> experts in
> issue areas involved?
> 3) I would like the thank and encourage those who seem to be a moving to
> a
> more open! and researched! topic process. I know that we have
> committed,
> intelligent, and caring people in this community, it is just hard to
> see
> sometimes.
> 4) Let's make the change now, this year. I hope to be in Kansas City
> and
> would like to invite anyone who is financially strapped to contact me
> about
> sharing rides/rooms/resources. Maybe the topic hosts could identify
> cheaper
> camping areas, train/bus options, affordable food options.
> 5) I think we should webcast the meetings. Everyone should be able to
> watch
> and IM ideas/responses to the meeting.
> 
> Sending my love for debate- Nicole
> 
> --
> Take a visible stand for peace!
> 

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Veronica M. Guevara
 
Weber State University
Dept. of Communications
1605 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408

		
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